MIT-Kendall zoning petition — a step in the right direction

As residents working to build a better Cambridge, we welcome the MIT Kendall Square zoning petition and see it as a productive contribution to socially and economically responsible development in our city. While we thank MIT for the strong housing and community benefit components included in the petition, we expect future MIT development proposals will show a similar commitment to promoting affordable, mixed-use neighborhoods in Cambridge. On balance we believe the petition promotes sustainable growth towards a more diverse and dynamic Cambridge.

The presence of MIT in Cambridge and significant institutional/laboratory development in Kendall Square creates overwhelming housing demand in our community. With this petition MIT makes a strong contribution to increasing the supply of affordable housing in Cambridge with a plan that includes residential development consistent with the recommendations of the K2 committee. We are pleased that the plan addresses the acute need for affordable housing targeted to a range of income levels in Cambridge by reserving a significant percentage of units for middle-income residents in addition to the low-income units required by inclusionary zoning.

We believe that the community fund provisions included in this petition provide important benefits to the neighborhoods most impacted by Kendall Square development, as well as giving neighborhood groups a strong voice in determining how those funds will be used. We consider workforce development to be the most critical component of the community benefit package to ensure that all Cambridge residents have the opportunity to participate in the groundbreaking research and innovation produced in Kendall Square. We anticipate that the proposed Community Funds Committee — with representatives selected by neighborhood groups including the East Cambridge Planning Team, Wellington-Harrington Association, and Area IV Coalition — will direct funding to workforce development, open space, and transportation projects of greatest need in and around Kendall Square.

The Kendall Square Advisory Committee and other recent planning initiatives in Cambridge have encouraged the growth of vibrant, transit-oriented communities where people can live, work, and play. We believe this petition reflects those goals by placing new housing in close proximity to the Kendall Square MBTA station, while proposing enhanced retail corridors along Main Street, Broadway, and Broad Canal. The MIT petition will improve pedestrian access on these thoroughfares in combination with existing successful efforts to expand transit use and biking in Kendall Square.

The benefits of this petition notwithstanding, we feel it is critical that MIT continue to demonstrate a long-term commitment to building vibrant and livable neighborhoods while addressing the housing, transportation, and other public needs their presence in Cambridge creates.

We support the MIT petition because we believe it promotes sustainable growth in Kendall Square with many potential housing, community, and economic development benefits for our community. We recognize the steps that MIT has taken to ensure the petition reflects neighborhood priorities and recommendations of the K2 advisory process.

Jesse Kanson-Benanav, MCP ’09
Chairman, A Better Cambridge

A more open discussion of RLADs

In the Jan. 30 issue of The Tech, Christina Davis, director of Residential Life Programs, is quoted as saying, “Myself, Naomi Carton, and Henry Humphreys met with the housemasters, the students, and the GRTs of the dorms without area directors to get a sense of those communities and what they’re looking for in terms of area directors.” This came as a surprise to the residents of Bexley Hall. No student or GRT is aware of such a meeting.

On behalf of the students living in Bexley, we urge the administration either to follow through on its talk of trust and inclusion or to bear a public image consistent with its practices. We invite the administration to open a discussion with the residents of Bexley at bexley-residents@mit.edu on the occasion of future policy changes that affect our community. The undersigned can assure that this will reach more people than an afterthought published in The Tech.

Bexley residents:
Amelia K. Helmick ’15, Andrea D. Nickerson ’14, Ariana J. Eisenstein ’15, Christiana Rosales ’14, Christopher J. Sarabalis ’14, Daniel H. Lizardo ’15, Emily H. Zhang ’15, Ethan P. Sherbondy ’14,
Ilana D. Habib ’15, Jesse L. Sharps ’14,
Julia C. Ellermeier ’14, Kathleen M. Laverty ’15, Kristjan Eerik Kaseniit ’14, Laila Shehata ’16, Micah Rye Eckhardt G,
Noga Feinberg ’15, Olga V. Vasileva ’13,
Samuel M. Jacobs ’16, Samuel T. Whittemore ’13, Valkyrie M. Felso ’15, Ronald H. Heisser’16, Soraya I. Shehata ’13